The Long-Run Determinants of Deep/Political Canada-US Integration

John N. McDougall | January 19, 2005

Tracing the path of integration back to the Cold War, John N. McDougall, (University of Western Ontario), argues that the determination to reduce the practical significance of the border between Canada and the US among most Canadian business leaders was intensified rather than caused by 9/11. The contest between Canada’s national ideas and the position of commercial and economic convenience has been tilting away from the former and toward the latter since well before the election of 1988.

Deeper integration does not require creating common decision-making structures such as those of the European Union. Canada and the US do not need to transfer significant authority to a central institution; they can, theoretically, accomplish economic integration through mutual but independent adjustments to their national policies. But such deeper integration also entails political integration. By this McDougall means the adoption of, or harmonization with, American policies and practices across a wide spectrum of national life. The consequences of this are that although Canada as a sovereign and legal entity may survive well beyond these kinds of structural shifts its long-term prospects as a distinct and internally cohesive community seem more tentative with every step toward deeper North American integration.

Thinking North America is based on presentations made at the biennial “Art of the State” conference held in Montebello in October 2003. It provides a comprehensive examination of the multifaceted challenges and opportunities presented by North American Integration.